Students at one of Sydney's most multicultural schools are filming a series of videos to explain some of Australia's confusing laws to new migrants. New settlers say one of the main stresses on arrival in Australia is understanding a complex web of regulations from road rules to laws on firearms and bribery.
In 1949, Australia held its first ceremony for new citizens. It would be almost 25 years before a policy that discriminated against non-white migrants gave way to multiculturalism.
More than a quarter of the population was born overseas, making Australia one of the world’s most culturally diverse places.
But with three levels of government — local, state and federal — it has plenty of laws, and that can be a minefield for newcomers.
Mona Ibrahim, an art instructor in Sydney, says in some countries weapons are routinely carried, but not in Australia.
“It is normal overseas to have that in your pocket. It is even recommended for your safety, but here we are learning a new concept for safety. You are already safe. If you are not safe you just call the police.”
High school students are making animated films to help new settlers, especially those from non-English speaking countries — understand Australia. It’s part of a crime prevention project called ‘New Home, New Laws.’
“Where we come from there are different ways to avoid crimes, and one of it is bribery; bribing a police officer or bribing a teacher for you to get good marks. That is why we put it on the screen there that in Australia it is a crime," said Brima Turay, a migrant from Sierra Leone.
The program is supported by Rob Lindsay, a retired school teacher, who says young migrants can easily find themselves in trouble.
“In some cases you might be pulled over by the police and the police issue an on-the-spot fine, which is paid and goes directly into the policeman’s pocket. Well, that really does not work here and I can see young people getting themselves into all sorts of difficulties just because they did not understand things like that, whereas in other places it is just the way the system works,” said Lindsay.
Australian immigration is dominated by new settlers from India and China.
There is opposition to multiculturalism in some quarters, but most Australians believe diversity has given their nation great strength.